In this section, we look at the nutrient fat.

We have included information to answer the following questions:

We also have two resources you may find of interest as attachments below; 

Coconut oil FAQ.which answers some of the common questions on coconut oil, and 

Choose your fats wisely, our picture guide to good choices of oils.

If you would like more of an  explanation of some of the terms used in this article, you may find our glossary useful click here.


What is fat?

Fat is a rich source of energy; 1 gram provides 37 kJ (9 kcal). Fat is made up of building blocks called fatty acids and these are classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated depending on their chemical structure. Some of these are essential components of the diet but others can be detrimental to our health if too much is consumed.

All types of fat provide the same number of calories (9kcal/g) regardless of where they come from. This means that too much of any type of fat can encourage weight gain. Foods that contain a lot of fat provide a lot of energy and are called energy-dense foods. Consuming too many energy-dense foods can lead to excess energy intake. This energy will be stored as body fat and, over time, promote the development of obesity, which increases the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.


How much fat do we need each day?

The recommendations for maximum daily fat intake for adults in the UK (called Reference Intakes; formerly known as Guideline Daily Amounts) are shown below.


Reference Intake



Total fat








FileFile size
Download this file (BNF Choose your fats wisely_2016.pdf)BNF Choose your fats wisely_2016.pdf1748 kB
Download this file (Coconut oil FAQ branded.pdf)Coconut oil FAQ599 kB